Conversation is fundamental to identity, learning, and even survival (Rutledge, 2011). Constructive conversations move beyond typical surface level school activities such as reciting facts, making up sentences to show grammar rules, and matching vocabulary meanings. In authentic interaction work, students use knowlege and language (grammar, vocabulary, and organized ideas to clarify, fortify, and negotiate complex thoughts. Our current and future students can benefit from this major shift in pedagogy, which is a shift from training them to choose answers to training them to pose questions, explore different points of view, and build meanings with others. Fortunately, the Common Core State Standards emphasize interaction skills and complex language development. And even if they didn’t, we have a duty to provide students at all levels and ages with multiple and well-supported opportunities to interact using original, whole, and academic messages.
Tools for Constructive Conversations